National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Registering a Death

Registering a Death

The attached Registration Privacy Notice (433 KB PDF) tells you what happens to personal information when a life event is registered.

Who can Register a Death in Scotland?

The death can be registered by:

  • Any relative of the deceased, or
  • Any person present when the person died, or
  • The deceased's executor or other legal representative, or
  • The occupier of the property where the person died, or if there is no such person,
  • Anyone else who knows the information to be registered.

How and Where do I Register a Death?

Any death which occurs in Scotland must be registered within eight days of the date of death by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The law allows a death to be registered in any registration district in Scotland. You can obtain the address of the local registrar from the undertaker, the hospital, the doctor, the telephone book (see under 'Registration of Births, Death and Marriages') and the Directory of Registrars in Scotland (70 KB PDF).

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The opening hours of registration offices varies between local authorities and some operate an appointments system. You should therefore check with the relevant local authority before attending an office. Please note that a burial or cremation cannot take place before the death has been registered.

What Documents should I take to the Registrar?

You should take with you:

  • The medical certificate of cause of death;
  • The deceased's birth and marriage certificate;
  • The deceased's NHS medical card;
  • Any documents relating to the receipt of a pension or allowance from government funds.

Provided you have the medical certificate of cause of death, do not worry if any of the other documents are not available as the registrar can still proceed to register the death.

When the registration is complete the registrar will give you, free of charge:

  • A certificate of registration of death for production to the person in charge of the burial ground or crematorium;
  • A Social Security registration or notification of death certificate for use in obtaining or adjusting Social Security benefits.
  • An abbreviated extract (i.e. excluding cause of death and parentage details) of the death entry.

You can obtain a full extract of the death entry for a fee.

New arrangements for the certification and registration of deaths in Scotland were introduced on 13 May 2015. This included the establishment of an independent review service run by Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Information on all aspects of the Death Certification Review Service is available on the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website.

If you wish to make an application for an advanced registration, please inform the registrar when you attend to register the death. An application form is attached but it is not essential to complete this prior to attending the registration office.

Other Useful information

The Scottish Government booklet “What to do after a death in Scotland” is available on the Scottish Government website, gives practical advice for bereaved people and is widely available in registration offices.  You can also get a copy by telephoning 0131 244 2193.

What if the Death Occurs Abroad?

You must register the death according to the regulations in the country where the person died. You will be given a local death certificate.

This local death certificate will be accepted in the UK. It may need to be a certified translation of the document if it is not in English.

You can also apply to register the death with the UK authorities. You don’t have to do this, but it means that a record of the death will be sent to the National Records of Scotland and you can order a consular death registration certificate from New Register House.

More information can be found here: